GINEBRA flashed its potential with a full-strength lineup in a blowout of Star in their tune-up game on Tuesday, but coach Tim Cone insisted his team remains a work in progress as they continue to ease Greg Slaughter back into the rotation ahead of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
With Slaughter back after sitting out for almost a year due to a knee injury, Cone implied that the Gin Kings are somehow returning to a more deliberate style of play than the fast-paced system they have been implementing in the 6-foot-11 slotman’s absence.
With Slaughter manning the middle again, the Gin Kings could veer away at times from their guard-oriented attack led by LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, and Sol Mercado, while Japeth Aguilar and import Justin Brownlee slide down to their natural positions.
“It’s just not a simple thing of saying that ‘Greg is stepping in,’ because everything changes, all the roles change,” Cone said after their 107-85 win. “Japeth’s role changes, the guards are looking at different things – Instead of looking to swing and go on a pick-and-roll, they’re looking down inside to Greg, and run it of off Greg.”
“It changes us defensively,” the champion coach added. “Because we don’t transition as well (than we would without Slaughter), so there are a lot of adjustments we have to make.”
“Hopefully we’ll be able to do it over time,” he continued. “We’re not going to rush into this. We’re going to take our time and try to integrate him the right way.”
Slaughter registered 13 points in three quarters against the Hotshots.
Cone went as far as relating Slaughter’s arrival to that of Kevin Durant to Golden State in the Warriors’ recent NBA championship run.
“It’s a lot tougher than people think to bring in a star like that,” Cone said. “I don’t want to compare Greg to Durant, but when Durant came to the Warriors, their first game against San Antonio, they got beaten by (29) points.”
The Spurs overwhelmed the Warriors, 129-100, in their regular-season opener last October, before Golden State found its groove on the way to winning a second title in three years against Cleveland.
“It took them quite a ways, they didn’t really get adjusted ‘til midway through the eighty-game schedule,” Cone said. “In the playoffs, they were unbeatable. But in the beginning, Steph Curry was like ‘what shots do I take?’ Klay Thompson, his role changed, everything changes a little bit.”
And Cone expects the Gin Kings to undergo the same transition with Slaughter.
“Greg is a tremendous impact player, and he’s going to impact the ball, but he’s also going to impact the team in terms of winning and losing, but also the chemistry, and how we do things,” Cone said.
“What I’m saying is that we’re still early in that process,” he added. “It may even take us this whole conference to figure that out. It’s going to take a while to get us into what we hope is a smooth, running machine.”